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The Great Emu War of 1932

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The emu appears prominently on the Australian coat of arms, but at one time, the country wasn't so proud to be home to the largest population of the species.

To reintegrate soldiers back into civilian life after World War I ended, Australia gave veterans land to farm in the western part of the country. Harvest went off without a hitch until the Great Depression hit in 1929, when the government pressured farmers to increase their wheat yields and promised assistance in the form of subsidies. Wheat prices plummeted and the subsidies never came. But something else did come: 20,000 emus that consumed crops and destroyed farmlands.

The desperate farmers pleaded for help from the Ministry of Agriculture, but ended up finding a potential answer to their problem with the Ministry of War, which sent two regiments of soldiers, machine guns, and 10,000 rounds of ammunition to annihilate the flightless, 6-foot-tall beasts .

But things didn't go as planned: The swarm of birds scattered and disappeared into the scenery. Bullets were wasted, and attempts to gather the emus into a mass-slaughtering trap failed. Eventually, on November 9, 1932, a Western Australian representative told Parliament that the emus had won the war. 

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Animals
Why Male Hyenas Have It Worse Than Females
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A life of hunting zebras and raising young on the savanna isn’t half bad for a female hyena. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their male counterparts. As MinuteEarth explains, things take a downturn for the males of the species once they hit adolescence. No female in their pack will mate with them, a behavior scientists believe evolved to avoid inbreeding, so they head off in search of a different group to join. After dealing with vicious hazing from their new clan, they file in at the bottom of the rank and wait for other males above them to die so that they can slowly gain status.

Even after rising through the hierarchy, the most a male hyena can aspire to is being second place to the lowest-ranking female. Thanks to their bulky build and aggressive behavior, female hyenas enjoy a dominant position that’s rare in the animal kingdom.

After watching the video below, head over here for more facts about hyenas.

[h/t MinuteEarth]

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Art
A Beached Whale Sculpture Popped Up on the Banks of Paris's Seine River
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In Paris, dozens of fish varieties live in the Seine River. Now, the Associated Press reports that the famous waterway is home to a beached whale.

Rest assured, eco-warriors: The sperm whale is actually a lifelike sculpture, installed on an embankment next to Notre Dame Cathedral by Belgian artists’ collective Captain Boomer. It’s meant to raise environmental awareness, and evoke "the child in everyone who still is puzzled about what is real and what is not,” collective member Bart Van Peel told the Associated Press.

The 65-foot sculpture has reportedly startled and confused many Parisians, thanks in part to a team of fake scientists deployed to “survey” the whale. One collective member even posted a video on social media, warning Parisians that there “may be others in the water” if they opt to take a dip in the river, The Local reported.

The whale sculpture is only temporary—but as for Captain Boomer, this isn’t their first whale-related stunt. Last summer, the collective installed a similar riverside artwork in Rennes, France, and they also once strapped a large-scale whale sculpture to the back of a truck and drove it around France.

[h/t Associated Press]

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